The 2013 NBA draft has concluded and analysts are probably hard at work grading it. The Blazers are one of a select few who should garner a high grade for their draft performance.
It was Neil Olshey's second draft as Blazers general manager and, perhaps, it could be difficult to top last year's selection of Damian Lillard, who went on to win rookie of the year. Will Barton was a pretty darn good pick up in the second round as well.
Despite Olshey's (still would like to know if I may call him Neil!) media silence over the past several weeks, it seemed common knowledge that Blazers 10th pick CJ McCollum was a high target for the team. It's an intriguing pick and one I think will assist the team as it moves forward. We're all going to be well-educated on CJ (apparently, he prefers to drop the punctuation in "CJ") over the next several days.
We should. In listening to his press conference, I was impressed at his demeanor. His answers were mature and thoughtful. I only listened to the press conference on the radio, but I could see him sitting there in his Blazers hat. I'm very much looking forward to seeing him on the court both giving Damian Lillard some rest, as well as pairing with Damian on the court in a similar manner we saw Damian pair last season with Ronnie Price, and then Eric Maynor. I think we know the opportunity we have will CJ and every Blazers fan out there should be excited.
With as positive a pick as CJ was in the first round, the Blazers made three selections in the second round and acquired another in a trade. As much as I am liking the promise of our number 10 pick, I am ecstatic about what the team did concerning round two. I've been able to get a little some perspective from friends regarding three of these guys. It should be noted it has been announced that the 40th pick, Arizona's Grant Jerrett, has been traded to the Thunder for cash considerations.
I'd like to share the perspectives I've gathered on those second rounders.
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It was announced at the beginning of the second round that the Cavaliers had traded the rights to the 31st pick, 6'6" shooting guard Allen Crabbe, to the Blazers for two future second rounders. For the sake of this blog, let's call this Steal Number One
Allen averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds last season at Cal-Berkeley while shooting .532 from the field, .348 from behind the arc and .813 from the line. He was voted Pac-12 Player of the Year by the conference's coaches. My sister, Jessica, just finished her freshman year at Cal, and either attended or watched over half of the Golden Bears' games. Here is her take on Allen:
"He shoots and scores. That's just what he does. When he shoots a jumper, it's a thing of beauty. He can play defense, but needs to be more consistent there. He's a good athlete and he can get up and down the court quickly."
What strikes me is that .532 shooting from the field. That's simply outstanding for a player at either guard position. Besides, if I can't trust my own sister's analysis, who's analysis can I trust?
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I was tweeting about the trade for Allen when the Blazers' 39th selection was announced. I was taken aback. I had predicted Jeff Withey to go 14 spots higher, in the first round, to the Clippers. I was floored. It was unfathomable that such a guy from a stalwart basketball power such as Kansas was still available. This guy is a defensive machine. his offensive game will need some work, but our need for a big guy is defense.
I could list a lot of statistics here, but there's one that glares back at you when you're looking at it: Jeff averaged 3.9 blocked shots per game for the Jayhawks. No wonder Olshey said he couldn't pass up selecting him. Jeff also averaged 13.7 points (on .582 shooting) and 8.5 rebounds per game. I'm going to call this: Steal Number Two.
My friend, Mark Kern, worked for the newspaper at Kansas St. -- the Jayhawks rival -- and also was an intern for the Bobcats during the 2011-12 season. The following are his observations regarding what he saw of Jeff.
"He does an incredible job of blocking shots without fouling; very limited offensive game in the post, but he has a nice 15-foot shot. (He) will provide 12-18 minutes a game off the bench, and instantly a defensive force."
If there's something I've learned from Mark, it's that he knows what he's talking about when it comes to sports. I was already excited about drafting Jeff. Now I am even more so after hearing what Mark told me.
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I had never heard the name Marko Tudorovic prior to the announcement he had been selected by the Blazers with the 45th pick. Any time a foreign player is selected, there seems to be a little mystery there. Frankly, his stats are not greatly impressive. There is, in fact, not a lot by which to judge since he averaged just 7.3 minutes per game in Spain last season. He's a 6'10" power forward who, despite his limited minutes, managed to claim just over two rebounds per game. Marko is certainly a role player, but one who can give a team a few hard-working minutes off the bench when needed.
Former Boise St. standout and Idaho Stampede forward Reggie Larry played against Marko in Spain. He was, what I would call, more than impressed. In fact, Reggie compared him to another Blazer.
"He's ready now; played against him in Spain. I think he's better than (Victor) Claver -- just younger."
We already know Marko will continue to play in Spain, where he has two years left on his contract. What we should also know is that he's a diamond in the rough and will expand his game in his time there.
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Hearing these comments make me feel very good about the team's activities on draft day. Honestly, I think we had a much better draft than I expected. Olshey and the war room team selected some very solid players. When it comes to the trade for Crabbe, he didn't away too much.
I'm calling this draft a success. In other words, our Blazers got better and we, the BlazerNation, should be very, very happy with the result.
In Kassandra's Words features periodic blogs throughout the year. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end; players come and go; our Blazers are forever.